FANTASTIC FINISH AS ROWAN EDGES TCNJ 23-21
BY ROCK HOFFMAN
College Football Editor
Glassboro, NJ – The post-game fireworks were anticlimactic after the finish to the Rowan-TCNJ game under the Friday night lights at Coach Richard Wackar Stadium on the Rowan campus. As improbable as it may have been, Rowan scored a 23-21 win when Jake Hurler kicked a 36-yard field goal as time expired.
"So many plays," said Rowan head coach Jay Accorsi, whose beard would've been gray after this game if it weren't already, "it was unbelievable."
Leading 21-14 with less than three minutes left in the game, TCNJ was positioning themselves for a score that would seal the win, after a couple of incompletions in the end zone, the Lions lined up for a 20-yard field only to have it blocked by the Profs' Eric Hill. John Perez returned it to the Rowan 38-yard line and six plays later, the Profs never-say-die quarterback Mike Husni ran in for a 5-yard touchdown with 56 seconds left in regulation. Key to the drive was a 49-yard run by James Fara. However, Nick Celli blocked the extra point try and all the Lions would need to do is recover the onside kick but they didn't. Nick Cerulli got the ball back for the Profs.
During the final drive, on one third down, Husni raced 25 yards for a first down but 10 yards were wiped out by a penalty. Then, after three incompletions, Husni connected with Terry Carlstrom for 20 yards and a first down at the TCNJ 19, Carlstrom got out of bounds stopping the clock - with one second left. After the requisite ice-the-kicker timeout, holder Danny Kay was able to get the ball down after the snap bounced back and Hurler did his job.
"I was upset about the block," said Accorsi "because we're usually really good. I knew if we blocked it up better, we'd get a good kick off. Jake's a great field goal kicker."
"I look at football, like basketball, it's a game of runs," said Husni, who was 16-of-33 passing for 183, one touchdown and he was intercepted twice.
"They had momentum up until three minutes left when we had to score. We just did what we had to do, luck to pull this one out."
The Profs improve to 3-2 and 1-1 in the NJAC, while the Lions are 1-3 and 0-1 in the league.
Rowan struggled to move the ball early, after a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, they got the ball right back when Jason Blanks intercepted Trevor Bopp on the Lions' first play from scrimmage. Rowan was unable to do anything with the break and punted the ball back to TCNJ. Here, the Lions got their tempo RPO game going and marched down the field but after running 11 plays, gaining 74 yards, and using almost 4 minutes of clock, they came up empty when Bopp was stuffed on fourth and goal at the Profs' two-yard line. The Lions got the ball back quickly and were again in a position to score but Blanks picked off Bopp in the left corner of the end zone.
After the interception, Rowan matriculated the ball down the field, they ran 16 plays using almost nine-and-a-half minutes but ultimately missed a field goal, but the drive changed the complexion of the game.
On the ensuing drive, the Lions turned it over on downs at their own 46 and the Profs used the short field to go up 7-0. The big play was a 39-yard pass from Husni to Fara on a wheel route. Three plays later, Husni was on the receiving end of a touchdown when the Profs ran the Philly Special, it was Eddie Jamison who threw the pass.
“Eddie used to play quarterback, so we had that in our back pocket,” said Husni. “My first one, probably my only one but I’ll take it.”
A three-and-out gave the ball right back to the Profs, Husni assumed his more traditional role of throwing touchdown passes when he connected with Carlstrom on an 18-yard play. Key to the drive was Fara running for a first down on a fourth-and-one at the Lions' 39.
Bopp expertly moved his team down the field, in hurry-up fashion, but a field goal try on the final play of the half was blocked and the Lions came up empty again on their third trip to the red zone.
The Lions finally got on the scoreboard on the first drive of the second half when Bopp threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to TJ Sheehan.
At this point, both teams struggled to move the ball – there would be just two first downs, combined, for the rest of the quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Lions scored two quick touchdowns to take control of the game. After the Profs turned it over on downs, the Lions needed just three plays. Bopp hit Thomas Burke for 52 yards and Sheehan caught a 13-yard touchdown that tied the score.
After a Husni interception, the Lions needed just five plays to take the lead. Ryan McKinney was on the receiving end of an 18-yard pass from Bopp for the score.
For Rowan, it would be a storybook ending while for TCNJ it would be a case of missed opportunities.